• Following the recess for the year-end holiday season, the 110th Congress apparently was in no rush to resume work on leftover legislation and to prepare for new business. The House of Representatives returned on January 15, while the Senate indulged in “pro forma” or “hello and goodbye” sessions until January 22.
Omnibus spending bill
The $328 billion omnibus spending bill passed by Congress to fund most federal agencies for the remainder of fiscal year 2004 (until September 30) failed to provide the $100 million authorized for general aviation businesses hurt by 9/11. But, as they say in the sports world, there’s always next year.
Congress bailed out of Washington in early December and was scheduled to land back in place on January 20. The recess provided ample time for reviewing legislative accomplishments and failures during the first session of the 108th Congress and for taking a look at what might happen in the second session.
• H.R.2115, the “Flight 100-Century of Aviation Revitalization Act” introduced in May by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), was combined with S.824, the “Aviation Investment and Revitalization Act,” introduced in April by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and approved by unanimous consent in the Senate in late November. The bill reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration for four years and provides $59 billion in funding.
The $388 billion omnibus spending bill Congress passed late last year cut the FAA’s budget for Fiscal Year 2005 to $13.6 billion, $219 million less than in FY 2004. But lawmakers added $9.5 million more than the Bush Administration requested to train more air traffic controllers.
• When Congress returned from its summer sojourn, lawmakers had 15 workdays scheduled for September. Very few, if any, were on the books for this month, as lawmakers will spend considerable time preparing for the November elections.